Sunday, April 27, 2014

हाँ , मगर मक्सत है क्या?

What is the point? Of life, I mean.We read books, build houses, throw parties, cry at funerals, create art, leave a legacy behind. But why? I'm pretty sure we weren't created to do all those things. Or atleast just do all those things. There must be a reason for our existence, God or no God. I still haven't seen Ankhon Dekhi but I like the premise. The story of a man who refuses to believe in anything he hasn't seen with his own eyes. I am surrounded with all the beauty, grandeur and wisdom in all directions. We live in a world where we are surrounded by things real, artificial, stuff we dream on and stuff we consciously imagine. Which is probably why on a few morning, as soon as I wake up, I have a tough time making out if it's a dream or for real. Sometimes, when I'm alone somewhere, late in the evening in Golden Light, or on an empty street in the blazing afternoon sun, or late in the night when I'm stargazing, the experience seems surreal. Like I'm the only person that exists in the entire world. I dabbled with Solipsism for a bit but it never gave me the answers I was searching for.

Okay, let me rephrase the issue at hand. Why do we go on living despite knowing that we are going to die one day and end all this? Like someone once said, "The only thing we can really be sure of is that we are all going to die one day. We are, in a way, walking-talking time-bombs". So then why do we do all that we do? If I told you you were going to die tomorrow morning, would you take your life as seriously? I don't intend to say this in the way mainstream cinema gives it's protagonist a deadline ( Anand, 50-50, Chakram, Ikiru spring to mind ) and then have him realise he wants to leave a proof of his existence behind when he leaves. It seems paradoxical to me that we embrace life more fully when the threat of death is more immediate but I suppose that's how it is. I don't even have a problem with death. I think it gives the required context to life, without which we'd be all the more clueless. My question is, despite knowing the artificiality of it all, the castle-made-of-cards fragility of our constructions, why we take it all way too seriously? We fall in love with all our heart, we pursue dreams obsessively, we make resolutions to grab life by its throat and experience life to its limits. Why even care? I think we do all that to be entertained. Let me rephrase, to be engaged.

A small detour here: The most exasperating thing about life is that we never enjoy the present moment. When we're doing something we love, we are so involved in it that our ego vanishes and we fuse into our action. There then lost is the chance to look at the moment in a bigger perspective. And at other moments, when we are contemplating or reminiscing, we look back at past with nostalgia and the future with hope or despair. So, there is really no point in life when you know what exactly you are doing and why you are doing it.

Back on track. I like living. Even in moments when things are as bleak as they can get, there's a part of me that tells me that I should be glad for feeling something. Anything. I would like to live. ( I love Tyrion Lannister's quote, " Death is permanent. Life on the other hand offers infinite possibilities." ) But I'm just curious as to why I'm here in the first place. This train of thought is more of intellectual curiosity than any pursuit of a philosophy. Probably, right now, even I'm trying to engage my mind than unearth the truth. Like evolutionary biologists suggest, a man's brain started growing when his most immediate needs of hunger, sleep and sexual pleasure were met and he had time to sit calmly for a while and let these thoughts take shape. I neither place entire belief in Scientific Atheists ( The Four Horsemen ) nor has my limited knowledge in traditional religion been able to give reasons for these questions. Right now, when it comes to God atleast, I'm stuck somewhere in-between being an agnostic and a possibilian ( Quick tip- Read David Eagleman's Sum. It's astoundingly original and mind-numbingly trippy ). Both religion and science, atleast parts of them I've been exposed to tried teaching me the best and the most fulfilling way to live, but haven't really been able to convince me simply because neither could explain the reason for my existence. I've apparently been living for '24 years' ( I still have not been able to figure out the alluring nature of time. Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams is another recommendation ) and I hardly know anything about myself or my surroundings. I don't understand consciousness, or who really 'Aditya' is, or why I do what I do. ( Heck, we can't even figure out what our next thought is until it arrives to surprise us and we talk about understanding the cosmos ).

Indian Yogis and Zen Master's talk about distancing ourselves from life and looking at it to understand the true nature of reality. Some people I know talk about life like it's a problem that is to be solved. If God really exists, why would he bother to create us, have us crack the puzzle and then liberate us by granting Moksha. What is the point? Buddha attained Moksha and told his fellow beings on how to go about it. And they believed in him because he was talking about an experience they never had, they followed the path he gave because for them he seemed to have cracked the puzzle of Samsara and was offering them a way. We have so many new-age babas cropping up, claiming to be enlightened and promising answers if one followed them. ( What are we in search of: Truth or Bliss? ) People trust them because having followed them to a certain distance, they've reaped rewards. But what if even the honest, well-meaning baba is only imagining that he's gotten the answers? What if even enlightenment is only halfway up the ladder? What it takes to be a baba, more than anything else, are self-belief and excellent oratory skills ( like Kumare so beautifully points out ). Then, in that case, how do you differentiate between an enlightened soul and a lunatic?

Despite all this, my question is not what happens afterwards but why we live the way we live. Like I already asked earlier, why do we go on living  with all this seriousness in this not-so-permanent world when for all we know, this might just be an intermediate world and we'd be really born in it only after we die here? Why all the intense emotions? The answer, I think, can be found in a film theatre after the lights have been dimmed and the titles come up. We know it's an artificial world, we know it's make-believe, we know the filmmaker is manipulating us by using all the props he can to bring out the emotion he wants us to feel. The best part, we fall for it. There is a part of us somewhere deep within that falls for the trap and it comes very naturally. We willingly enter the matrix, we choose not to take the red pill, we are tempted by the beauty of maya.

I don't have answers to most of these questions. Yet the possibilities life offers are very interesting. I can listen to Rahman, watch Wes Anderson, marvel over Godel's Incompleteness Theorems, be captivated by a Jackson Pollock, be lost in the richness of Mahabharata and its intricacies and still be able to marvel at my existence. These are beautiful times to live in. And I'll not trade this life for anything else. Even if I'm unsure of its मक्सत.


Deekshith said...

Oh lovely piece. It just questions the existence while it marvels at the perks offered by it.

By the way, we crave to leave a legacy behind because we, on a selfish note, want ourselves to remain immortal in our own ways. Though we won't be there to witness all that, we'd like to envisage somebody talking about us when we elude this place. I can narrow it all down to that.

sirish aditya said...

That is really true. Nonetheless, we also know it is stupid because we won't be around to feel good about the appreciation. But hell, yeah, we're humans. We're nothing if not stupid.